Mon10202014

News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Subcommittee offers plan to rescue Tiny Tots

Photo Elliott Burr/Town Crier

Tiny Tots preschool teacher Sara Callahan, left, helps Cecilia Dahl, 3, make a festive hat for Thanksgiving. The preschool could face closure if it fails to attain financial solvency.

A report from the Los Altos Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission (PARC) subcommittee could help wean Tiny Tots from its $55,754 annual city subsidy, rescuing the preschool from imminent closure.

Several Los Altos City councilmembers oppose the subsidy largely because the preschool does not meet the city-mandated 100 percent cost recovery and is bleeding money. The 2008-2009 study reported that 44 percent of Tiny Tots’ preschoolers did not reside in Los Altos and that the program lost $51,268 after repaying 53 percent of the cost recovery.

“We’re not in the business of social services,” said Councilwoman Val Carpenter in June in defense of the city’s desire to drop the subsidy.

But the PARC report, compiled by commissioners Maria Bautista, Pradeep Parmar and Larry Baron and scheduled for presentation at Tuesday’s council meeting, recommends several strategies to offset expenses.

The report suggests adding an afternoon program. Tiny Tots currently operates a preschool program for 3- and 4-year-olds. Coupled with a fee increase and possible ramp-up in marketing, the expansion could pull the program into the black.

“Either a contract program or a (Los Altos) Recreation Department program can utilize the site in the afternoon,” according to the report, citing the facility’s availability after noon. “Preliminary analysis of a Kindergarten Preparation program indicates that at a capacity of 24 students, 100 percent cost recovery could be achieved with 73 percent classroom utilization across all programs.”

The subcommittee also determined that fee increases would be necessary. A focus group including Tiny Tots parents and PARC representatives discovered that parents would tolerate a 10-15 percent tuition increase.

“I think there’s a lot of leeway for a tuition increase,” said parent Anne Schmidt, whose 4-year-old is currently enrolled.

The report shows an inverse correlation between student capacity and necessary fee increases, stating that at 85 percent class use, fees need to increase 45 percent to achieve 100 percent cost recovery; at 90 percent use, a 29 percent fee increase; and at 100 percent use, a 16 percent increase.

Leea Guy, the Los Altos recreation coordinator who oversees Tiny Tots, agreed that increased marketing efforts could contribute to achieving 100 percent capacity.

In addition to onsite signs and banners to attract drive-by traffic, Guy suggested increasing e-mail outreach and direct-mail brochures to Los Altos families with children that fit the programs’ target demographics.

“We’re in a new generation and need to have some kind of web-based marketing,” said Michael Wegmann, a Tiny Tot parent, at a PARC meeting Nov. 12.

Tiny Tots runs only one program for 3-year-olds and one for 4-year-olds. Guy said the addition of a Kindergarten Preparation program, targeted at 5-year-olds, would be key.

The annual fee for the current program for 3-year-olds is $1,620 for Los Altos residents and $1,662 for nonresidents. For 4-year-olds, tuition is $2,273 for residents and $2,315 for nonresidents.

The addition of a prekindergarten program, which could assist in achieving financial solvency, would require Tiny Tots to install an air-conditioning system for $8,000 to $10,000, according to the report.

A preliminary PARC subcommittee report recommended relocating Tiny Tots from its current San Antonio Club site, but parents’ objections caused the committee to reject the suggestion.

The city council is scheduled to review PARC’s recommendations and determine a plan of action at its Tuesday meeting.

Tiny Tots has been under scrutiny since June, when councilmembers balked at the preschool’s annual subsidy and failure to recover its costs.

Parents and preschoolers staged a demonstration at city hall to protest the school’s potential closure. Placards read, “Get priorities straight” and “Don’t I matter?” After deliberation, the council voted unanimously to extend the preschool’s operation until July and have representatives return with a plan for financial independence at the Tuesday meeting.

Schmidt, who hopes her 2-year-old son can attend next year, said she’d be hard-pressed to find a better program than Tiny Tots.

“It would be a huge loss,” she said. “It would be huge. I just really like the program.”

Contact Elliott Burr at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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